"You know, our mission's not just to be there to help people with material things or physical things but our motto is that it's not just about us, it's all about Jesus," Pastor Stephen Sance of Pearl's Antioch Missionary Baptist Church said.
He talks about his growing church community in this Sunday's "Faith in Focus".
Sports, video games, school.
Any and all of those activities are pretty standard reasons a pastor might give why kids are distracted from going to church.
So how is it that Pearl's Antioch Missionary Baptist Church can attract well over one hundred kids to its social events when the total number church members is about as many?
News Channel 12's Jacob Kittilstad met with Pastor Sance before their Sunday Service on May 5.
It's clear that music is a big part of the community. They're blessed with five willing-piano players, one church member said.
And during the service: a room of people willing to sing in praise for - who Pastor Sance says - a God that humbles his service.
"I've been doing this for 36 years and I don't have him figured out yet. In fact, I preached a message not long ago that I need a God that I can't understand because he's that much greater than I am," Pastor Sance said.
"We've seen drug addicts turn to Christ and become great workers in this church. We've seen alcoholics who were saved, turned to Christ and their whole life changed, family life, everything about them changed," Pastor Sance said.
"They begin to help others. They're not just helping themselves but others as well," Pastor Sance said.
The church - located nearby Pearl's city hall - has been a part of the community for some time now. In 2012, church members celebrated their 50th anniversary in the building.
And although the scripture they follow has not changed in that time, they have changed their focus slightly, Pastor Sance said.
"Ten years ago or maybe even less we looked around in this church and saw we don't have very many children. So one of our goals was to begin to reach out to young people," Pastor Sance said.
Now there is a healthy attendance of children during their service. Associate Pastor Kelly Penton coordinates their weekly outreach events that include everything from drama clubs to night games.
"Once a child gets fired up or a teenager gets fired up about something they're going to go out and they're going to tell their friends. And when their friends see their excitement they want to come see what's going on," Penton said.
Pastor Sance shares the reason for the focus.
"You know, statistics show that most people are saved before they reach the age of 16. That is, they turn to Christ before the age of 16. After that the opportunity is there but for some reason the statistics show it's very low, the number," Pastor Sance said.
"We also have 'Made to Worship' on Sunday nights to reach all the children of this community - pearl. And we have a wonderful time. I just want to say that it's a privilege to work with the younger generation," Penton said.
"I pray for missionaries to come out of this church, god-fearing women who aren't afraid to stand up for the lord Jesus. In Sunday school we pray for leaders of this community. That's what we do, we pray for them and we .. don't want to just teach them how to be a good church member. We want to also teach them how to be affective in this community," Penton said.
And Pastor Sance also says their work with kids - who can walk in from surrounding neighborhoods - can also give structure in what can be a tough world.
"As you know, in every city, the family life today is not like it was 50 years ago. And a lot of these children that we reach - their family lives are in turmoil. They come from split homes or there's abuse, drugs, or alcohol," Pastor Sance said.
"And we feel it's very important to reach out to these young people and tell them 'hey, not only does Christ love you but we love you too and we want you to know that'," Pastor Sance said.
If you would like to share your church community with the viewers of News Channel 12, contact Jacob Kittilstad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his cell phone (601)-664-8839.
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